August 1
August 1 E-mail

This morning, God impressed on me Psalm 106:13, "but they soon forgot what he had done."  God has done some amazing things in leading me to two medical specialists earlier in the year, so that I am well enough to be here.  He has kept my migraines at bay.  I have had some jaw and tooth pain; however I have the medicine to address it.  May I not forgot, but rest in his lovingkindness and graciousness to me.

Kallistos Ware, an Eastern Orthodox clergyman, brought the meditation.  He read Genesis 1:26-28 and said that man is a created icon of the uncreated deity.  Ware proclaims that human creativity is part of being an image bearer.  (I agree.)  He said that the Greeks made a distinction between image and likeness, with image being the point of origin and likeness, the end point.  We are on a journey from image to likeness. 

The first plenary lecture was by law professor Patrick Brennan.  Sadly, he talked so fast that not only could I not take good notes, I couldn't follow his argument ... and I'm a former lawyer.  This is an example of where a transcript of the lecture would be immensely helpful; it would afford slow and thorough digestion.

Dana Gioia, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, up next, was a favorite with the crowd.  While I wouldn't go so far as to say more people are brought to Christ through art than through preaching (see e.g. 1 Cor. 1:21), I understand the point Gioia was trying to make.  Art awakens us to our humanity; art leads us to truth.  In the United States, entertainment has replaced art.  Alas, entertainment does not lead to truth.  When art is removed from the schools via budget cuts, a child's hunger for art doesn't go away.  It is satisfied with cheaper substitutes, such as TV and video games. 

The afternoon was open so I went on a tour of the Bodleian library.  The tour guide, a librarian, was pleased to hear I was from Chapel Hill.  He said groups go back and forth between the Bodleian and UNC School of Library Science.  The architecture of the divinity school was amazing.  We had to lock all our belongings in a bin and go up empty-handed to Duke Humfrey's Library.  The books were mostly huge, very old, and chained to the shelf.  The ceiling was painted with lots of frames of what appeared to be an open book on a coat of arms.  I love libraries.  What would it be like to roam around the Bodleian unrestricted?!

bodleian

The Bodleian library tower

divinity school

The Divinity School at the Bodleian

bodleian door

Around the inner courtyard of the Bodleian were doorways for various academic disciplines

At dinner I sat across from Angela, on the music faculty at a Baptist college, and Paul Barnes, the pianist who has given several concerts during the week.  I asked Paul if it was easy or hard to go to sleep following a performance.  I can't imagine having so much adrenaline pumping at 9 pm, only to force yourself to bed at 11 pm.  He said it takes awhile to wind down and he will sometimes have a drink for its depressant value.  It gave me a little insight into the life of a musician.  Angela and I had an enlightening conversation about the merits of various brands of dark chocolate.

This evening we had a worship service at St. Mary's.  More of the beautiful, old hymns and choral music.  Evangelist John Guest spoke.  Guest first heard the gospel at the corner of Carfax and Cornmarket in Oxford.  (He later moved to America.)  He said that we worship a God who is rational, who reveals himself, and who desires a relationship with us.  According to Guest, the reason we celebrate C. S. Lewis is because of Lewis's surrender to Jesus Christ.

st mary the virgin

University Church of St. Mary the Virgin

Following the service, we enjoyed a reception in the courtyard behind the church.  Some conference attendees would be heading home the next day.  The rest of us would board coaches for Cambridge.  By the way, we had our first bit of rain this afternoon.  Time to read Bev's "rain" message.  It was a poem by Mary Oliver, "Last Night the Rain Spoke to Me."